[00:00] [music]

Kevin Garber: [00:07] Good morning, good evening, good afternoon wherever you are in the world. It is Friday, the 9th of December. Unless you're watching live, in which case it is Wednesday the 7th of December. [laughs] We record this a couple of days. It gives us a few days to edit it, etc.

[00:22] We're trying for the first time, we're trying to stream it live on Periscope. If you happen to be up and we've tweeted it out. We have...it's only three people, but you got to start somewhere, watching us. We have a fantastic show lined up for you, episode 71.

[00:43] Later on in the show, we chat to Cathy Hackl, who's an AR and VR expert and someone who's incredibly passionate about the space. AR and VR is constantly in the press. It's an absolutely fascinating area. We've got so much to talk about after the interview.

[01:02] Kate and I went and did a little field trip to try out some VR programs and experiences. As always, you can tweet us @MonkeyPodcast. You can check out the show notes at itsamonkey.com.

[01:15] On the previous show, episode 70, we chatted to Peter Cohan about Facebook fake news, which was a really interesting story about where fake news comes from, mainly from teenage boys in Moldova, which I found that, still find that, quite interesting.

[01:32] As always with me is my co-host, Kate Frappell. She is the Design Lead at ManageFlitter. Kate, thanks so much for joining us again.

Kate Frappell: [01:42] No problems.

Kevin: [01:46] As always, we chat about a couple of news story just to help people keep the finger on the pulse. What is happening this week in some of the tech news?

Kate: [01:55] First item for today is Amazon have launched a cashier-free convenience store, currently only being used by the employees. You basically walk in, scan your phone. They've got heaps of cameras and sensors tracking your movements. You take what you want and you walk out.

Kevin: [02:18] Basically, as you walk in the shop, you have an app and then it scans a QR code or something like that?

Kate: [02:25] Yep.

Kevin: [02:25] It's aware that you're in the shop, right?

Kate: [02:27] Mm-hmm.

Kevin: [02:27] Then you walk around, pick up whatever you want, and then you just walk out. The app and the sensors and whatever tech they've got there is aware of what you've walked out with, and it just pings your payment to credit card or PayPal or whatever it is. It's a done deal.

Kate: [02:46] I'm assuming that's all through Amazon. You must have credit or a titanium credit card. Apparently, it feels just like shoplifting.

[02:55] [laughter]

Kevin: [02:57] I read that, but I think they got more cameras on you than ever. I find this really interesting. It removes all the friction. I find those self-service checkouts, things which we've got in Australia a lot, I really don't like them.

Kate: [03:12] Why?

Kevin: [03:13] To me, I find it adds more friction. Maybe because I don't use them often. It's all the little health food stores I go to have cashiers. On the odd occasion I go to one of our big supermarkets. I'm like, "User interface, bag, no bag." It just all seems like a bit too much of a hassle.

Kate: [03:31] I actually enjoy it. It's so much faster than having to wait in line...

Kevin: [03:36] Wait in the line.

Kate: [03:38] and have someone scan it. You lose that interaction with other people and having a chat with the cashier and stuff, but sometimes you don't want to do that. You want to get your stuff, you want to get out.

Kevin: [03:47] But this Amazon, though, takes it to a whole new level because it's totally frictionless. You walk in the store, find what you want and you walk out. I very much think this could be the future of everything, right?

Kate: [03:58] Yeah. They've suggested that they're going to try and open, I think, it's 2,000 stores next year.

Kevin: [04:03] Amazon definitely can't be underestimated. Jeff Bezos, who's the CEO of Amazon, he is a really smart CEO, really gutsy CEO. Of course, they created Amazon AWS web services, which essentially the entire Internet is currently sitting on.

[04:20] It's a Cloud-based service that is just absolutely fantastic, turning over a massive chunk of their revenue at the moment. I wouldn't put it past me for them to do this full circle. Not only do they revolutionize e-Commerce. Now, they may revolutionize bricks and mortar.

Kate: [04:37] Yes, exactly. Now, use it to their advantage as well, I'm sure. All the cameras and the sensors, they all even track what you might've picked up and read and put back. They'll know that you're interested in a certain product, and they can target you with ads on all their platforms.

Kevin: [04:53] The data metrics that you'd be able to get would be a dream. Maybe they're piloting this technology and actually it's just license to sell this technology to...

Kate: [05:04] Potentially...

Kevin: [05:05] because to be retailers and supply chain, I suppose they already have all of that in place for the e-Commerce side of things.

Kate: [05:12] What I find interesting though is how they're going to track the individual. When you scan your phone when you walk in, are they tracking the movements of that phone? In which case, if you stood next to someone and then reached across them, would it confuse who bought what?

Kevin: [05:27] It's probably based on your phone, I would imagine. If you gave your phone to someone, it would be tied into their phone. Unless they do something really funky like face recognition or something like, which is just totally possible.

Kate: [05:42] Potentially.

Kevin: [05:42] The technology is all there. Of course, with a lot of these technologies, we've spoken about Uber in the past and self-driving cars and how people lose jobs on that side of things. Cashiers in many countries are...it's a student jobs or people that don't have much option to get something else. It's a bitter pill to swallow when you're the one who loses your job.

Kate: [06:07] Sure, but they also noted that it's not being stocked by robots or anything like that. There's always going to be...

Kevin: [06:15] You always need people.

Kate: [06:15] at this stage, there'd be people packing shelves.

Kevin: [06:18] Interesting. We'll see. I absolutely, I hate shopping. The whole experience is just very ordinary, generally. Anything that removes the friction around it, absolutely so. Anyway, that's Amazon.

[06:33] Also, Reddit. We don't talk a lot about Reddit. I don't think any of us in the office are huge Reddit users. I pop in every now and then. Reddit is almost like a discussion forum, but web-based discussion forum meets Twitter meets content.

[06:57] It's an interesting meets dig, which used to be quite popular that surfaced interesting articles where people would post an article. If they found that interesting, they would up vote it or down vote it. It would be this crowdsourcing effect of you would find out what an interesting article is. It's a bit of a combination of all of them.

[07:15] Whenever I land up on Reddit, I enjoy it. I actually enjoy it, but somehow, it just doesn't draw me in. Like you made the point, it's not as...it doesn't draw us in the same way Quora draws us in or Medium draws us in.

Kate: [07:31] I think a lot of that could be the interface as well and just the user experience. If you don't enjoy reading it or you get confused, then you don't really want to come back.

Kevin: [07:42] The app's pretty good. The Android app's pretty good.

Kate: [07:48] OK.

Kevin: [07:48] The Android app, I quite like. You can subscribe to different categories like the Twitter category and the Blockchain category. You can get a notification when someone posts in there. It's of a much more informal nature than Quora is. It's not long form. It's people asking questions or having a quick discussion.

Kate: [08:07] Is the aim of the game to get your discussion on the home page?

Kevin: [08:13] The aim is much more informal. The aim is to ask questions or share interesting links, so particularly topic-based. There's a Blockchain category there that's relatively active. Anyway, the news story this week around Reddit is that they've re-done all their algorithms so that it's more difficult to game it.

[08:35] One of the problems with a lot of these social media networks is that people learn how to game them. It's always a cat and mouse chase to find out, to prevent gaming. Google's always tweaking its algorithm, so that people can't game it. They're constantly tweaking their algorithm. Facebook and their Newsfeed algorithm, even Twitter with getting rid of spam bots and things like that.

[09:03] Reddit have totally re-worked from the ground up their voting system. Their voting system's pretty, it's quite smart. It's crowdsourcing in a way where someone talks about something. If they find it interesting, they'd get more up votes. Then it bumps to the top of the category. If it gets down voted, it goes to the bottom.

Kate: [09:24] When you say, they're gaming it, they're finding ways to up vote things on mass with bots or...

Kevin: [09:31] Exactly.

Kate: [09:32] OK.

Kevin: [09:32] There is some point system in Reddit which I don't quite understand, which they're re-working as well. But I think Reddit is also quite famous for obscure categories as well, things like...

Kate: [09:47] Like?

Kevin: [09:48] things like the Blockchain or things like agenda politics or things. I think also with Reddit, it's a lot easier to be anonymous as well. You can create, throw away accounts. The history of the Internet comes from anonymity in this. Even though anonymity can cause problems such as trolling and things like that, it can also be advantageous.

[10:11] If someone wants to discuss honestly something that is controversial or sensitive, to be able to do it anonymously, especially teenagers or people in countries where freedom of speech is an issue, to be able to do it anonymously, there's actually huge value in that.

Kate: [10:31] It's a good way of learning if you don't want the, I guess, real life ramifications of asking certain questions.

Kevin: [10:40] Exactly. But of course, you can also use your full name and real name on there, as well.

Kate: [10:46] Can you become Reddit famous?

Kevin: [10:48] [laughs] Good question. I mean, you can drive a lot of traffic from reddit, as well. As a content marketer, if you hang out there and you contribute valuable opinions and you can...When we did the Blockchain interview a few weeks ago with Tim Lee, I posted the link in the Blockchain category, got, I don't know, half a dozen up votes, a few click-throughs, nothing stratospheric, but it's...

Kate: [11:21] Anyone discuss it, like replies?

Kevin: [11:23] No, not to that one, but it's been around for a long time, Reddit. Actually, many, many, podcasts ago, there were some discussions about some controversies at Reddit where the leaders in Reddit were involved in some politics. So if people are that interested, they can dig up some of our old podcasts where James and I do discuss that.

[11:48] Reddit has been around for quite a while. It's not a new...And it's owned by a very big company, I think is it IAG? I think the same company that owns Tinder? I stand to be corrected, but one of the big companies owns Reddit. Worthwhile checking out, particularly if you're into obscure topics, not only tech.

[12:09] A lot of relationship discussions and family dynamics discussions and...

Kate: [12:16] Mysteries of the universe... [laughs]

Kevin: [12:17] Yeah, and life, and everything. That's Reddit. Anyway, that's the news for today. We're going to take a quick break, and we are going to come back with the interview with Cathy Hackl where I spoke to Cathy about AR and VR, and the wonderful tsunami of innovation and change coming around that technology.

[12:42] Stick with us and we'll be back after this break.

[12:45] [music]

Dave Zoradi: [12:51] Hi. My name is Dave Zoradi, and I'm the customer support specialist here at ManageFlitter. ManageFlitter is a tool that helps you work smarter and faster on Twitter. With ManageFlitter, you can clean up and grow your Twitter account. You also get access to useful Twitter analytics, social content scheduling, and much more.

[13:09] Go to manageflitter.com, and start your free trial today.

[13:13] [music]

Kevin: [13:13] You're back with the "It's a Monkey" podcast. We talk about everything relating to tech, the tech economy, startups, entrepreneurships. One topic which is just getting more and more relevant, and more and more topical, and I think is going to change the world in radical ways we haven't even thought of yet, is VR and AR, virtual reality, and augmented reality.

[13:37] I searched far and wide to find someone who lives, eats and breathes this topic, and I found them in Gainesville, Florida, and I'm happy to say at the end of my Skype line, Cathy Hackl is joining us. Cathy is an AR and VR evangelist and a content strategist for VR Salon. Kathy, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us.

Cathy Hackl: [13:59] Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here and share some of the AR VR knowledge with the rest of the world.

Kevin: [14:06] So, let's first just briefly chat about the difference between the AR and the VR because some of the people listening aren't exactly across all these technologies. Give us a brief summary of the difference between AR and VR, and is that difference going to be significant over time? Are they going to become one and the same thing but just different modes?

[14:30] Talk us through where we are at with that.

Cathy: [14:33] I think that you see a lot of news trying to put VR against AR, and I really think it's about a spectrum. It's about a spectrum of technologies. That that's where we need to start. It's not one against the other. It's a spectrum of technologies.

[14:46] The easiest way to define VR is it's a digital environment where you're fully immersed in that environment. What I mean by that is that usually the experience we are using a headset that covers your eyes, so you are completely immersed. The real world is blocked from what you're seeing.

[15:07] You could be seeing a completely computer generated environment, or you could be seeing a 360-degree video within the headset, but the real world is completely shut out from that. That's virtual reality in a nutshell.

[15:22] Then, augmented reality is when you have the real world but there's a digital overlay, so digital element, to it. When people played Pokémon Go, which a lot of folks now think, "Oh, that's augmented reality," they had probably experienced augmented reality when they were using Snapchat Lenses but they didn't know it.

[15:42] Remember when you're doing Pokémon Go, you're using your phone, and you find these little creatures everywhere. That's the real world with a digital overlay. What really gets me excited is kind of the next iteration of what AR is going to become, which is called mixed reality.

[16:00] Some people use the term augmented reality and mixed reality equally. I think the big difference there and the key difference there is that in mixed reality, you're going to be able to interact with that digital element. You're going to be able to grab it, you're going to be able to do things with that digital element that you're not able to do right now.

Kevin: [16:21] There's a theory in tech that all significant technologies start out as a toy. Whether you look at the airplane, or the car, or computers, computers might be slightly different because they started in the military, but is VR and AR still at the point of where it's a toy? I mean, social media even started out as a toy and now businesses are immersed in it.

[16:45] A lot of people have seen the VR headsets. A lot of people have heard of Pokémon Go. Has it started to impact real industries, for example, medicine, or business, or architecture, or real estate? I haven't really stumbled or bumped up upon that. It still seems to be in the domain of enthusiasts at this stage.

Cathy: [17:09] That's a great point. I think that when people hear VR, many of them think gaming, or eSports, or they think the Play Station and the PS VR that just came out. So yes, while a lot of the content is still very game-heavy, there are going to be amazing applications for this spectrum of technologies when it comes to work.

[17:34] The way I frame the conversation around virtual reality and augmented reality when I'm speaking to a group of people or an audience is that, at the heart of it, what we're really talking about here is the next computing platform. I'm going to repeat that. At the heart of it, it is about the next computing platform. It's how we're going to interact with computers, and...

Kevin: [17:55] Sorry to interrupt there. I think...

Cathy: [17:57] No worries.

Kevin: [17:58] I think people don't understand how significant that is. I think Mark Zuckerberg does, and that's why he bought Oculus Rift, but people really don't understand. I have family and friends that laugh at me the whole time when I explain some of these concepts and how our whole reality is going to be...We're not going to have our reality in our reality.

[18:19] We're going to be able to plug into a whole variety of different realities.

Cathy: [18:24] Completely, and I think when you hear people saying, "It's just a fad," no, it's not a fad. I mean, Mark Zuckerberg, like you said, he paid two billion, with a b, billion dollars, for Oculus. There's a reason for that. There's a reason why Microsoft is going all in on the HoloLens.

[18:42] There's a lot of moving parts here, and it starts with gaming but the reality is that this is going to change the way we work, this is going to change the way we do medicine, this is going to change many elements of the future. Because of the things I've done and the people I'm connected to, I've been able to try out some of the things that are coming down the line.

[19:04] I can't really share everything because I've signed some NDAs, but I can tell you I've seen the future, and I've seen how my kids are going to interact with computers, and it's truly mind blowing and fantastic. It's exciting, and I think people instead of scared because a lot of people tend to get a little scared, should be excited about this new change in technology.

Kevin: [19:25] We already have augmented reality in many, many ways. We just don't call it that. A movie, for example, in a way, it's an augmented reality, and it tricks your brain. Our brain is wonderfully good at many things, but our brain can't always tell what's real and what's fantasy.

[19:42] It just takes what's input to it, so if someone cries in a movie, you, on many levels, know that that's not real, but in many ways, it is real to you. An augmented reality and virtual reality, in a way, is just a huge extension of that, right?

Cathy: [19:57] Completely. I think when you're in the virtual reality space, you're having an experience in virtual reality. It happens so much faster than it would, in a different way. Like if you're in the movies or something, when you're in a virtual reality space, it takes minutes to realize that what you're feeling is real. Your brain is completely immersed in this, so it thinks it's real.

[20:20] There's been studies done that show that after wearing a virtual reality headset and looking at something, you're going to have a better recollection, a better memory of what you just saw because your brain is going to remember that. It's going to think it's a real memory, and I mean, it's obviously not, but you're going to remember things a lot crisper.

[20:40] I always tell people, I've done many experiences, and I did two that really impacted me. One of them is, I'm going to start with, I'm going to say, the fun one, a Brookhaven Experiment, which I played. It's really a game where zombies are coming after you. You're in there and you know the zombie is not real, but you see it coming and what you feel is real fear.

[21:06] There's no way to get around it. It's real fear because your know it's not real, you know you're wearing a headset, but it's coming at you and you're completely immersed, so you feel real fear. That's one of the things.

[21:18] Then I tried one called Confinements, by RYOT News, where you're in a solitary confinement cell that's got very small dimensions, and it kind of shows you where prisoners that are in solitary confinement spend 90 percent of their day.

[21:35] I was in there for literally maybe three to four minutes, and I was already claustrophobic, so I can't imagine having to live my life like that. Those two kind of make me realize that this is truly an amazing and revolutionary technology.

Kevin: [21:56] Has there been developments on other sensory inputs? Most of it is based on sight and sound, but it would be so much more powerful if some of the other senses, the haptic type senses, or the smells, or anything like that.

[22:12] I mean, if you put on a virtual reality headset and go on a forest walk or something, and you can actually smell it, it would even take you much further. Any development in that arena?

Cathy: [22:27] There's definitely a lot of startups working on the haptic side of it. I've seen a lot of startups that are working on kind of a second type of skin or making sure there are some devices that you might be able to put on your body while you're in the VR experience so you can feel. This is definitely being worked on as we speak.

[22:46] That kind of second skin or second, I don't know what to call it, but that's already been worked on. I think it's very new. The whole industry, in general, is kind of in an embryonic stage, so those things will come.

[23:01] I also tell people, for example, the most funded startup in the history of the world is called Magic Leap. If people that are listening to this are interested in augmented reality and mixed reality, go look at Magic Leap and what they're doing. What they're doing is actually working with our eyes, with people's eyes, to create the perfect mixed reality wearable.

[23:29] We don't know yet if it's going to be a headset. Some people think it's going to be a headset, but it really is going to work with your eyes. Eventually what we're going to see are these wearables, but maybe we'll see an implant or something of that nature. I know that scares people. [laughs] But it's going to be working with our senses to make this even better.

[23:49] For the smell one, I mean, there are some funny ones out there, but I know it's being worked on.

Kevin: [23:56] It's a trickier one, the smell one.

Cathy: [23:58] It's a trickier one. I mean, it's easier to pull off, but it's not going to be very "realistic." You're going to put something on your nose, let's say, or there's going to be some machine with different scents throwing those at you, so it's not going to be as subtle, let's say, at this point.

Kevin: [24:13] Harder to calibrate, sort of control the smell side of things. A movie is very linear in a way, and even though it's a recreated reality or a capture of a reality, with all the processing power, I mean, it's almost like rendering on the fly, in a way.

[24:35] Would it be possible to define a person, or an object, or an experience based on reality like 3D scan your dog and for all of your life be able to hop into either virtual reality or even bring in an augmented reality version of your dog? I know it sounds a bit wacky but...

Cathy: [25:03] No, not to me at least.

[25:05] [laughter]

Kevin: [25:05] I completely agree with what you're saying, Kevin. That's one of the things I tell people. Think about this. Everyone has a relative that has passed away, and you have memories of them, but you might not remember certain things.

[25:21] Those memories start to fade, but if you're able to 3D scan them, or do a 360-degree video which later you're going to be able to kind of add a digital element to...What if you can go back to having coffee with your nana, where you actually are able to see how her hair went to one side?

[25:39] Well, you're going to be able to have those memories in a very different and intact way. I think it's beautiful. I know it sounds a little, like you said, a little bit wacky to some people, but if you think about it, I think it's very beautiful that we're going to be able to have that, that you're going to be able to leave a message for your family in a hologram.

[25:58] You're going to be with the holograms, people are going to be able to see you as a hologram. So I think that there's a lot of good things that will come from these technologies in that sense.

Kevin: [26:10] Will you be able to interact with them in a natural way, though? I mean, how far away are we from doing something like that?

Cathy: [26:20] Not right now, to be honest, but we don't really know what Magic Leap is going to give us, so we'll have to see because that's the whole point with mixed reality. What they're trying to do is being able to interact with that digital overlay.

Kevin: [26:35] Do you think, Cathy, that someone being born today is going to, by the time that they're a teenager and in their 20s, their world is going to be indistinguishable in terms of what's baseline reality, what's augmented, what's virtual? I mean, they might be seamlessly just going in between the two, and almost seamlessly not knowing which one is which.

[27:02] I mean, is that type of future scenario possible?

Cathy: [27:06] It is. I wrote this article for the "Huffington Post," where I talked about how I noticed that my children were very accepting of the technologies, and how I consider them to be virtual natives. They've tried Google Tilt Brush, they've done a lot of different experiences.

[27:26] As a side note, children are not supposed to try virtual reality until they're 12 or 13, but I've let my children try it out for a couple of minutes and they've been OK.

Kevin: [27:38] Why is that? I mean, that's relatively late, 12 or 13, I guess?

Cathy: [27:45] Here in the United States, all the things say, "12 or 13 and above." I know there are other countries that start at 8. I don't understand why because I haven't really seen any issues with my children. I've seen plenty of children using the headsets. There's actually junior headsets out there. There's virtual reality kids' fests outside of the United States.

[28:08] I think it's just one of those things where they want to protect themselves in case of anything, so we'll have to see. My kids have been very open and very receptive to these technologies, and they don't even ask questions. They just accept them as fact, and I think that that's the interesting fact that our children are growing up with these technologies.

[28:29] It's going to be part of how they interact. I think that we have digital natives, which you and I are probably considered digital natives and the younger millennials are, too, but as we see these younger generation, these are going to be called the virtual natives.

Kevin: [28:44] In case someone is listening to the show and they're being curious about AR and VR, what's a good starting place in terms of, I know there's a few different hardware bits and pieces, bit of different software components, and maybe even say they're not a gamer, let's leave the gaming out of it. What are some good hardware to look at, and pieces of software, a good way to start?

Cathy: [29:10] I think one of the easiest, especially with augmented reality, I mean with augmented reality, your phone has many capabilities, like I said, Pokemon Go, there's other games. I actually bought the Lenovo Phab 2, which is the first Google Tango enabled phone. It allows you to do AR on your phone on a different level.

[29:35] For example, it's going to allow me to add digital elements that I can add pictures. It's going to allow me to 3D scan my house, and create models that way. It's going to allow me to create some amazing AR experiences. So let's say that you want to spend some $500 and what have you, the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro is definitely a way to start.

Kevin: [29:58] The Google Tango, is Google's platform for AR or VR?

Cathy: [30:02] For AR, mostly. Let's say this is the first one where you're going to be able to do this. There's a Google Tango enabled tablet, and I have one, but I haven't really seen that many people purchasing it. I think the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro which was announced many months ago is finally available.

[30:23] It's available in the United States, and I believe it's going to become available outside the US pretty soon, but for that kind of price, it's relatively good in the sense that a Microsoft HoloLens, which right now is one of the best AR experiences you can get, is going to run you about 3,000 US dollars. It's a huge difference in price there.

[30:46] There's also another headset called the Meta, M-E-T-A, and I've tested that one as well and it's pretty interesting and fantastic. The developer's kit for that is about 900 US dollars, so AR is still, I would say, on the expensive side and there's very limited things, but that will soon change. That will soon change.

[31:09] You've got Google Cardboard, which is very inexpensive, but it's not necessarily the best experience. Then, you have the plastic headsets, which are a little bit better, like the regular plastic or the Gear VR, and the Google Daydream Viewer which is not really necessarily plastic. It's a different material, but it's the same concept.

[31:27] They don't have what we call six degrees of freedom with which we are able to move within a certain space. You have to consume the Cardboard, let's say, sitting down.

Kevin: [31:38] Has it been much progress on motion sickness in VR?

Cathy: [31:43] I think they're definitely working on that. They're trying to make it better, and they're trying to make it a better experience. One of my friends calls the plastic headsets that you can get for 20 or 30 dollars a headache in a box.

[31:58] [laughter]

Cathy: [31:59] I don't agree with him, because I've never had that problem. He definitely tells me, "What if someone buys this headset, has a bad experience, and just doesn't want to do anything with VR?"

[32:11] I'm, "OK. I understand that you're a VR purist, but [laughs] you know, it's a first way to enter into VR," because right now, you've got the HTC Vive, and you're got the Oculus Rift, and those are really the top headsets right now, but they're very expensive and you need a gaming PC. You can use a lower end now, a lower PC with the Rift, but it won't be as good as if you have a gaming PC.

[32:46] There's several options on what you can buy. I would just say if you want to invest a little money without going too crazy, get the Samsung Gear VR and go from there.

Kevin: [32:57] Not only is it expensive, it's probably going to become obsolete pretty quickly, so you hit with a bit of a double whammy on those technologies.

Cathy: [33:06] It is, it is, that's the thing. [laughs] I'll give you an example, Kevin. I had a friend of mine stop by this weekend, and he's got the virtual reality backpack. Basically, what that means is you normally need a gaming PC, like I said, to run the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive.

[33:23] A company called MSI Gaming created a backpack, which is literally a computer that you can just plug in all your Oculus Rift or your HTC Vive into. I got to test it out this weekend and it was fantastic, but two days before he came over, HTC Vive came out with an adaptor to make the HTC Vive... [laughs] it's produced by a different company to make it wireless, untethered.

[33:50] That's the problem. There's a lot of innovation and it's fast and furious, but it's making certain things obsolete without them actually being out in the market. It's really interesting, it's what do you invest your money in. It's a tough call I would say.

Kevin: [34:06] Tell us quickly, Cathy, the startup scene in Florida, we don't hear much about it. We hear about San Francisco, we hear about New York, we hear about Austin, we hear about Boulder, a little bit about Seattle, Portland, Chicago, but we don't hear much about Florida. You did mention Magic Leap. What the startup scene like in your part of the world?

Cathy: [34:27] It's interesting Magic Leap is based in Florida. They have offices in a few different places, but their headquarters and their CEO are all based in Florida, in Dania Beach which is close to Miami.

[34:43] I do see a lot of innovation coming from Florida, definitely innovation towards the Latin American market. We're going to see a lot of content creation that's going to be geared towards the Spanish-speaking market here, but it's very vibrant. Even in my small town of Gainesville, Florida, there's a big push for having a startup community, and I'm starting to see some pretty amazing startups coming out of here.

Kevin: [35:10] Definitely keep an eye on it, and it's pretty fortuitous that HQ or virtual reality and AR aren't too far from Magic Leap. Cathy Hackl, VR/AR Evangelist, Content Strategist at VR Salon. I think we could carry on talking about this forever, but we're going to have you back on the show, hopefully, and I really appreciate the time that you've made for us chatting about all things AR and VR. Very exciting times.

Cathy: [35:38] Thank you, Kevin. I appreciate it.

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Kevin: [36:27] You're back with It's a Monkey Podcast. We talk about everything relating to tech, the tech-economy startups, entrepreneurship, and we've moved actually to once a week. We're giving it a go. I'm quite liking the once a week, Kate. What do you think? We've got into rhythm, right?

Kate: [36:42] Yeah. We're getting a rhythm and a routine in place which is working out pretty well.

Kevin: [36:49] We've had such fantastic guests. I got a message from a friend about my interview with Danielle Tate, which was a couple of podcasts ago, and she said to me, "Well, that's definitely one of your best interviews yet." I said, "What do you mean? What made it good?" and she said, "You guys just really clicked together, and it was a really interesting discussion."

[37:10] If you haven't the discussion with Danielle Tate, I think it's...Is it Episode 69?

Kate: [37:15] 69 is Danielle, yeah.

Kevin: [37:17] Hop onto itsamonkey.com. Danielle's an author of a great book about entrepreneurship and have a listen to that episode. We're going to try keep it up once a week, and we'll see where we can go from there.

[37:30] Anyway, AR/VR, wow. That's all I have to say. Kate and I went down to the local Microsoft Store yesterday, on Pitt Street in Sydney, and they've got an HTC VR headset, and we thought we'd give it a go.

[37:44] I've tried VR before, in New York last year, but I thought I'd try it again. Kate, you hadn't tried it before at all?

Kate: [37:51] No, I've tried it. That's probably about the third time I've tried it. I've tried a few different companies and headsets.

Kevin: [38:01] We tried the HTC, and we actually went down to try the AR Halolens, Helolens...originally...

Kate: [38:07] HoloLens?

Kevin: [38:07] Holo...I think it's Halo. Holo, yeah. I'll double-check it. That one you have to actually book to try, which we're definitely going to do, but we both had a go at the HTC. They let you use one of the applications and also play a game, and each time, it's only my second time I've used virtual reality, but you definitely can't help but walk away thinking, "This is just gonna be big," right?

Kate: [38:36] Mm-hmm. Wow. Mind blown. [laughs]

Kate: [38:38] Also, the sort of effect where you're really excited, but you're also, "Oh!" It's a moment of disappointment as well, because it's not as exciting in the real world anymore.

[38:51] [laughter]

Kevin: [38:53] It's like coming out of a fun exciting movie, and just the world seems a bit flat and one-dimensional. Like I chatted about with Cathy in the interview, it's still a little bit of a way away, but going into the virtual reality world and having a real-time chat with someone who's passed away based on some of that technology that we've spoken about, that Adobe "Photoshop for audio," right?

Kate: [39:20] Yeah. I think that's a little bit creepy, though.

Kevin: [39:22] It's creepy. It's pretty creepy, but the technology almost seems like it's on its way and...

Kate: [39:34] I think there's all sorts of social ramifications and psychological ramifications, if you start playing with life and death, and even violence on that kind of level. There's got to be some parameters when they create this and it becomes such on a big scale.

Kevin: [39:51] The ethical and moral issues and...surgical training, I can see simulations in the AR, so the AR with the HaloLens, the Microsoft HoloLens...Holo or Halo? Let me check. Can you check quick? I can't with my...

Kate: [40:13] I'm on the screen.

[40:15] [laughter]

Kevin: [40:15] Microsoft's product. You wear it and you interact alongside your normal reality, so it layers on top of it. It's also really interesting, it's almost just a user interface to the world, but your existing world. It doesn't totally change it in its entirety.

Kate: [40:35] No, and you don't need to calibrate a certain area like you do with the virtual reality. It's anywhere, anytime, and you don't need the hand controllers, you can actually use your fingers to indicate and build things in real space.

Kevin: [40:49] And you don't have to set it up...The VR, you got to set the room up properly, right?

Kate: [40:56] Yeah, yeah. That's what I was also saying, they calibrate it, you have to mark out where a safe area to play is, otherwise you start running into things in the real world.

Kevin: [41:06] Yeah. I like the simplicity of the AR getting it right. There's some interesting videos that they have with the Microsoft product. I think it's different, a lot of significant technologies start out as a toy. Nearly all of them start out as a toy.

Kate: [41:24] You can say that it's really big in the gaming sphere at the moment.

Kevin: [41:28] Whether it's the Wright Brothers and the airplane or social media or...So much technology starts out as a toy, and then it finds its real-world application, and I think VR and AR is really going to be big. It's still very expensive, the HTC headset was about 2,000 Australian dollars?

Kate: [41:51] Yeah. I think the HoloLens on their website, they're quoting about 8,000.

Kevin: [41:56] I think that's the developer edition, though. Right?

Kate: [41:59] Is it only available to developers?

Kevin: [42:01] No, there's two versions. There's a standard version and a developer edition. The standard edition is about half of that, still very expensive.

Kate: [42:08] Yeah.

Kevin: [42:09] Still very expensive.

Kate: [42:12] Personally, I would wait for it to iterate a little bit more, because even though it's still quite a sleek design, it's very chunky. If I can make it into something similar to sunglasses, I think they run a winner.

Kevin: [42:25] Google Glass?

Kate: [42:26] That didn't work. They stopped iterating on that for some reason.

Kevin: [42:31] Interesting thing is Apple. Apple's is not vocal. Facebook, of course, has bought Oculus Rift for a lot of money and it's all about VR, and Facebook see that the next space that people are going to be interacting as in the AR/VR space.

[42:52] Apple might be doing something very under wraps. They're smart people, I would imagine they're doing something, and they might be waiting until they get it really right, but it's still...They're taking a big leap of faith by not having anything. They could really get gazumped by all these other...Microsoft's pushing hard on all of this.

Kate: [43:12] I was going to say Microsoft are taking the lead from what I can tell. Apple are going to miss out if they don't hurry up.

Kevin: [43:17] Yeah, so hurry up, Apple. We love you better.

[43:22] [laughter]

Kate: [43:22] I don't want to go to Microsoft.

[43:24] [laughter]

Kevin: [43:24] Don't make us, don't make us. Microsoft has changed a lot. From the Windows XP days, it's changed a lot, but that's the beauty of competition. It keeps us all on our toes.

Kate: [43:37] You know that even Cathy said in her interview that VR/AR is the next big computing platform, and so we've got all these different tech companies attempting to be the leader. I'm curious to see who wins.

Kevin: [43:56] 10 years ago, the leading companies were different companies...

Kate: [43:59] and then, they get overtaken.

Kevin: [44:01] And they get overtaken. There's a famous academic from Harvard, Clay Christensen, who talks about the innovation, and how as companies succeed, it becomes harder for them to innovate by definition for a variety of factors. It's a wonderfully eloquent argument, and that's why there's always going to be room for the upstarts, right?

Kate: [44:26] Yeah.

Kevin: [44:27] There's always going to be room for the upstarts and it becomes really hard for these companies. Same with Google, they tried with Glass, it didn't really get anywhere. They've got the Cardboard VR headset that's very cheap. I haven't tried it.

Kate: [44:39] I can't remember what they called that, but yeah. They integrated a similar thing like a McDonald's toy or something? I saw an ad. [laughs]

Kevin: [44:49] It was funny, this morning I was chatting to a friend saying I'm recording the Podcast this afternoon, and we're going to be talking about virtual reality, and I said to him, "Have you ever tried virtual reality? It's amazing," and he said, "Yeah. When I was a kid, I had the View-Master." [laughs] In a way it is. It's lo-fi.

Kate: [45:07] The beginning of it.

Kevin: [45:08] The beginning of it. Anyway, that's Episode 71. We hope you enjoyed the show. Please go to itsamonkey.com for the show notes, and you can leave comments, you can see previous episodes there as well.

[45:23] What really helps us a lot is if you go to iTunes and review the show. If you go to itsamonkey.com, you'll find the link to iTunes, and just put a two-second comment there. It really helps us in getting discovered on iTunes.

[45:36] We'll be back next week with another fantastic show. We might continue. I see we're getting some hearts on Periscope there, Kate.

Kate: [45:44] Yeah. What do they mean? [laughs]

Kevin: [45:45] I don't know. [laughs] Someone's liking it. We don't know who they are, because Periscope doesn't let you see who they are as far as we can tell. We might try Periscope again, it's sort of fun.

[45:57] It'll be particularly fun if we can have many users and they can write us questions while we're doing that. It's always been my vision, actually, to have a live version of the show and then wrap it into a Podcast.

Kate: [46:11] With people tweeting questions?

Kevin: [46:12] Yeah. Look, it would be great if we could have it the same time every week, and we get the user base and then people get to know it, and we can even feed it through live. We should even potentially try it and even potentially see if there's a way we can play the interview through...

Kate: [46:30] Yeah. Next week we should send out a Tweet on Monkey Podcast and say, "Tune in now."

Kevin: [46:34] Could. It's a little bit late for America time, though, or not too bad for West Coast. The East Coast is fast asleep still, but Australia's wide awake. Anyway, that's been Episode 71. Thank you for listening, hope you've enjoyed it, and we will see you next week.

Kate: [47:03] Bye.

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